Trudeau government looking to force news outlets to get government licences

Heritage Minister Steven Guilbeault said the Trudeau government is considering making news outlets in Canada require a government licence to operate.

Graeme Gordon Montreal QC

Canadian Heritage Minister Steven Guilbeault suggested news media in Canada should be regulated, requiring news outlets in Canada to be licenced.

“If you’re a distributor of content in Canada and obviously if you’re a very small media organization the requirement probably wouldn’t be the same if you’re Facebook, or Google. There would have to be some proportionality embedded into this,” Guilbeault told Evan Solomon an interview on CTV’s Question Period.

“We would ask that they have a licence, yes,” Guilbeault continued.

This past week a panel of broadcast experts tabled a list of 97 proposals—a report called the “Canada’s Communications Future: Time To Act”—to the Trudeau government that included the recommendation that the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) or another regulatory body control licencing of all companies creating “audio, audiovisual, and alphanumeric news content”.

The Trudeau government has already picked favourites in the Canadian news sector by offering a $600 million bailout to the industry, which allowed eight special interest groups tied to the legacy media to decided which companies would be eligible for the taxpayer money.

“No, a free democracy does not require the press to obtain a government licence,” said Globe and Mail columnist Andrew Coyne in response to Sunday’s news.

Guilbeault also told CTV’s Solomon that the government was taking their time deliberating what 97 recommendations to adopt and hasn’t committed to anything yet.

The Trudeau government also appears to be set to force streaming services such as Netflix and Amazon Prime to pay tax and create and stream a set quota of Canadian content.

“As far as the GST or PST, depending where you are in the country, is concerned, it’s about fairness. Companies aren’t paying PST or GST in Canada, and there’s no reason that the wealthiest companies in the world who are operating on Canadian soil shouldn’t pay for it,” said Guilbeault in the CTV interview. “

And as for asking them to do their fair share to contribute to Canadian cultural content, I mean you were talking about Netflix. Well last year Netflix spent around a billion dollars in Canada. And what we would be asking them to do, what the panel is recommending and what we have said as a government many times before, is that they take part of that money and invest it in the development of and the distribution of Canadian cultural content.”

The list of 97 proposals also includes having the CBC—notoriously known for not crediting other journalists’ work and for pushing Trudeau government propagandamonitor and police other news outlets’ content.


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